Screaming, jumping up and down and lots of high-fives.
That was the staff reaction at Winston Churchill School when they opened an enveloped cheque from Can-Do Auto & Lube, a donation toward the completion of a new, wheelchair accessible playground in 2015.
“We knew that there was a significant donation in there, but it was even $1,000 more than what we had thought,” said Elena Brand, principal at the school. The total written on the cheque was $5,000.
“The community has supported us for 30 years in our business, so it’s our way of giving back,” said Lindsay Ollen, co-owner of Can-Do Auto.
With this contribution, the school will be adding a rocking ship glider to their new playground, which is a wheelchair accessible component that can be enjoyed by any child, regardless of their needs.
As for the school’s current playground, Brand said it has seen better days and it’s high time it’s replaced.
“It’s 30 years old. It’s wooden. We’ve had to repair a number of the old plastic slides. Repairs are done daily on the wooden structure itself,” said Brand. But with Can-Do Auto’s donation, the new playground will be even better than initially anticipated.
Years ago, not much consideration was given to children with special needs in the way of accessibility. But times have changed.
“At this point, we know that all children have the right to play and we want to provide the equipment so they can do that,” said Brand.
With a budget of $100,000 from the Lloydminster Public School District, the school decided to raise additional funds to give more options in the construction of the project. An approximate 150 – 175 students participated in a fundraiser as well, selling chocolates and gift wrap that ended up contributing to the campaign for $8,000, with fundraisers throughout the year last year which raised in the area of $3,000 – $3,500.
With that, students also have some say in what they’d like to see added to the playground.
“We’re still looking through catalogues actually, at this point in time,” said Brand. “We will take it back to both the parent group and the students with some ideas. They will do some voting on what they would like to see in the playground. And then we’ll make sure that the classics are covered, the slides, the swings, all of those really popular pieces as well.”
As for Can-Do Auto, they’ll be getting a nameplate on a piece of the playground to commemorate their donation. But Winston Churchill School is still looking for help in adding even more inclusive pieces to the playground project, and she urges anyone who is interested in donating to the cause to step forward.
It’s important to Brand and the school that they can fill the needs of all of their children.
“We have a number of students who have special needs who at this point have been really restricted in what they could do,” said Brand.
But with the way things are going, 2015 will see a playground that will solve that problem.